LA County moves out of high COVID-19 level

File photo by Mayra Beltran Vasquez / Los Angeles County

OVER the past week, Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 metrics improved enough to move the county back to the medium level.

The level is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 framework.

While Public Health is greatly encouraged by the decline in cases, hospital admissions and deaths, because viral transmission remains high, there are still thousands of new people each day who are infected and capable of infecting others.

The high rate of transmission continues to be driven by the Omicron variant, which accounts for 100% of sequenced specimens. The highly infectious BA.5 subvariant of Omicron continues to be, by far, the most predominant subvariant. In the week ending July 23, BA.5 comprised 80% of all sequenced county specimens.

With only slight increases in the percentage of BA.5 specimens recently sequenced, it is possible that we may be experiencing a saturation of our population with this subvariant. While we are carefully tracking other subvariants of interest (including BA.2.75 and BA.4.6), we have no indication at the moment of any new variant hat is spreading, according to Public Health.

The 7-day average case count has fallen to 3,660 cases today, a 22% decrease from 4,719 cases a week prior. The 7-day average test positivity rate this past week is 11.1%, a decrease from 12.5% one week ago.

Over the last seven days, the average number of COVID-positive patients per day in LA County hospitals was 1,112, a decline of 9% from one week ago when the 7-day average number of COVID-positive patients per day was 1,222. Also, the LA County daily hospital admissions rate is now 9.9 admissions per 100,000 people, a small decline from to 10.1 admissions per 100,000 people one week ago.

Deaths, which typically lag hospitalizations by several weeks, are beginning to drop, with an average of 14 deaths reported per day this week. One week prior, there was an average of 17 deaths reported per day.

On Thursday, August 11 the CDC revised  its guidelines and recommendations for residents to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. These revisions largely align with already established LA County guidelines that require anyone testing positive in LA County to remain isolated away from others for a minimum of five days. In LA County, a person with COVID-19 can exit isolation on or after Day 6 if they have had no fever for 24 hours, their symptoms are improving, and a test taken on Day 5 or later is negative.

Those exiting isolation Day 6-Day 10 should continue to wear a well-fitting mask whenever around others. Isolation can end after Day 10 as long as there has been no fever for 24 hours. See ph.lacounty.gov/covidisolation for more information.

With many testing at home, and results not reported to Public Health, those who test positive should notify anyone they were in close contact with in the 48 hours prior to their positive test result or COVID symptoms, whichever was first.

Close contacts in LA County are not required to quarantine provided they have no symptoms, test within 3-5 days of their exposure, and wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days from their last exposure to the confirmed case.

“I send my deepest sympathies and wishes of peace and comfort to the many families who have lost a loved one from COVID-19,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “While we are thankful to see our county move to the medium community level, because we know that getting infected causes disruptions at the workplace and in the family and for some, becoming infected leads to debilitating illness, we advise caution, and ongoing use of a sensible approach for reducing the risk of exposure and preventing severe illness. All tools available help: getting vaccinated and boosted reduces risk of severe illness, testing before and after gathering, wearing masks when indoors, and staying home and away from others when sick reduces transmission.”

Public Health reported 19 additional deaths and 3,995 new positive cases. Of the 19 new deaths reported today, one person was between the ages of 30-49, three people were between the ages of 50-64, six people were between the ages of 65-79, and eight people were aged 80 years or older. For information on the one death reported by the City of Long Beach, visit longbeach.gov. Of the 19 newly reported deaths, 17 had underlying health conditions. To date, the total number of deaths in L.A. County is 32,922.

Public Health has reported a total of 3,351,082 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County. Today’s positivity rate is 11.1%.

There are 1,065 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized. Testing results are available for more than 12,392,466 individuals, with 24% of people testing positive. n

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